Working Paper 1/2020

Kotilainen, K. and Patomäki, H. (2020). Towards a Helsinki Approach to Global Political Economy: Integrating Pluralist Economic Theorisation and Critical IPE. Helsinki Centre for Global Political Economy Working Paper, 01/2020. 

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IPE is in need of critical self-reflection. Many or most scholars fail to be persuaded by the Open Economy Politics framework, which has informed the bulk of IPE research especially in the US since the late 1990s. A key reason for the apparent lack of an effective alternative to the positivist approaches is that critical IPE has thus far failed to address satisfactorily two key deficiencies from which it has arguably suffered from its very beginning. These two deficiencies are the paucity of economic theorisation and lack of philosophical depth. We make four claims: (1) there is a limit to how far IPE can go without addressing explicitly the problems of economic theory; (2) the mainstream of economics has insulated itself from the concerns of social scientific IPE, but there are several economic theoretical traditions from which IPE can draw insights and explanatory hypotheses; (3) systematic engagement with different traditions requires an explicit metatheoretical framework such as critical scientific realism or pragmatism; and (4) IPE should illuminate structures, mechanisms and processes that are not confined by state borders or limited to interactions of national states. It follows from (4) that the field should be called World or Global PE rather than IPE.

Keywords: causation; economic theory; epistemological pluralism; explanation; metatheory; methodological globalism; social scientific realism